Thursday, July 30, 2009

Triathlon

Something new on the agenda for this weekend; Sunday I'll be competing in my first Triathlon. I'd been running 3+ days a week in training for the marathon, and also biking 2-3 times a week...so I figured a triathlon might be a fun way to pull them all together.


The race is known as a 'Sprint Triathlon' - which is the entry level triathlon distance. It's a quarter-mile ocean swim, 11.5 mile bike ride, topped off with a 5k run. The swim will probably be the most challenging part - dodging waves, other swimmers, and perhaps the occasional shark. I've spent the week doing laps in the pool at my building, and also hitting up the Rutgers aquatic facility for some longer swims. I've got a fairly decent stroke, but it's amazing how quickly you get winded.

Surprisingly, most people I've told about the race have said, "Well, that doesn't seem too hard." I've been a bit surprised at the cavalier attitude from the peanut gallery. True, I think each one of these distances don't sound terrible individually, but the back-to-back-to-back nature...while racing for the fastest time should be a challenge. As a friend of mine said, "If it were easy, everyone would be running triathlons."

The race is being held at Belmar on the Jersey Shore, at the deliciously early starting time of 7am. Just another day at the beach.

If you're curious, the famous Ironman Triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, finished off with a full marathon of 26.2 miles. Just wrong.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Obama Matrix


"If there's a blue pill and a red pill, and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that's going to make you well?" -- President Obama

In last night's press conference, President Obama seemed to be reliving that famous scene from The Matrix. The main character is offered a choice between a red pill that makes him see reality for what it is, and a blue pill that allows him to continue living in a pleasant world of illusions.

Last night, President Obama appeared to have taken the blue pill before his press conference. How else could he convince himself, the Congressional Budget Office's numbers notwithstanding, that his health care reform bill will not increase both health care costs and the federal deficit? How else can he continue to make the argument that a massive expansion of government spending on health care will solve rather than exacerbate the current problems? How can he repeatedly express such absolute certainty that such a measure will easily pay for itself several times over in the long run? Why can he not at least acknowledge the possibility that it will become a costly and useless trillion-dollar boondoggle that follows in the footsteps of his stimulus package?

With his example of the red and blue pills, and another about whether a child's hypothetical tonsils should be removed, President Obama unwittingly presents the real problem with his plan for reform. Here is a well-meaning government official who so fails to grasp the problem in health care that he can present such absurd oversimplifications and suggest that this sort of thing is the real problem -- doctors simply lack the common sense to make obvious medical decisions. President Obama wants us to solve this problem by putting himself and other government officials in charge of rescuing medicine from the medical profession. If medical doctors with a decade of schooling cannot distinguish between good cures and ineffective ones that must be discontinued, then by gosh, we're lucky that the good folks from the government can.

President Obama thus frames the issue as a false choice between doing nothing at all and handing over to Washington complicated, case-by-case medical decisions that cannot possibly be legislated or dictated by government.

This transfer of medical authority to the bureaucracy is intended to curb costs. Unfortunately, there is exactly one thing that government can do to control costs in health care: it can insist on paying below cost. This shifts the cost burden to private insurance companies, which in turn pass along higher premiums to their patients. This is what government-run Medicare does today for many treatments, including cancer. Government will do more of this kind of "saving" when it assumes greater responsibility for funding citizens' health care, particularly if a government-option health care plan is established. The Mayo Clinic which President Obama praised in his speech last night is the same Mayo Clinic whose president signed onto a letter to Congress yesterday, expressing fears that a government-option health care plan Obama wants to establish will do more of this cost-shifting. The letter states:
Under the current Medicare system, a majority of doctors and hospitals that care for Medicare patients are paid substantially less than it costs to treat them. Many providers are therefore already approaching a point where they can not afford to see Medicare patients. Expansion of a Medicare-type plan without a method to define, measure, and pay for healthy outcomes for patients will move many doctors and hospitals across this threshold, and ultimately hurt the patients who seek our care. We should not put more Americans into the current unsustainable system.
President Obama brushed off this concern last night near the end of his press conference, citing a hopeful but very vague blog post on Mayo's website that went up a day before the letter was sent. In addition to ignoring budgetary and medical concerns, he repeated his dubious promise that his plan will not force millions of Americans out of health insurance plans they already have and like. He had no comforting words to convince anyone of the wisdom of creating two new taxes on employers -- one of them a tax that punishes small businesses with a higher tax rate if they create more jobs -- in the middle of a recession.

The one thing President Obama did not do last night was address directly any of the concerns that Americans have about his pending reform proposals. With this sort of rhetorical detachment from reality, it is not surprising that public support for his vision of health care reform is gradually eroding.

President Obama needs to take the red pill, even if it does cost twice as much.

By David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner

Unintentional Villains

If you've sat down to watch any major sporting event in the past decade, you are keenly aware that network sports broadcasts are now a huge production - some might say over-produced. No longer do we simply have two sportscasters chit-chatting their way through the Super Bowl or US Open. Instead, we're routinely hit with the tear jerking vignettes about our sports heros growing up without any legs, and then going on to win 19 consecutive marathons after battling cancer and AIDS. Or, the like. And we can't get enough.

Jim Nantz, of course, is the master. Bob Costas and Rick Reilly are close behind. These guys could turn Michael Vick into a hard-knock story of redemption and pride, and by the end of the 4 minute segment you'd be in the bathroom trying to put your hair in cornrows. We're suckers for emotion, and we love the underdog.

And if there's one thing we've learned about the American sports fan lately - it's that we love old guys. Tom Watson, Lance Armstrong, Greg Norman, Brett Favre (depending on who you ask).

This past Sunday, at roughly the same time, two of our favorite geezers were center stage - making a run at history: 59 year old Tom Watson was teeing it up with a chance to win the British Open, and 37 year old Lance Armstrong was in the French Alps, 8 seconds off the lead in the Tour de France. However, by the end of the afternoon, it was all over - and both men had their dreams dashed, by villains. Dirty, dirty villains.

Now, these villains probably aren't bad guys at heart...but you can't help but hate Stewart Cink and Alberto Contador a little bit. Stewart Cink wore his green highlighter shirt, and beat Tom Watson in a playoff - robbing us of one of the great sports stories of all time. Contador (Armstrong's teammate) sprinted ahead of Lance during the 15th stage, and Armstrong had no choice but to stay back - and not chase down his teammate. Both were tough to watch. Truthfully, we probably hate Contador more because he's from Spain (and fuck the Spanish, right?)

So these guys are now unintentional villains because they robbed us of our climax at the end of the old-guy-vignette-foreplay. If you're not a fan of golf or cycling - fast forward to the 2010 Superbowl...with Brett Favre on the field with a chance to take the Vikings to a win, and then at the last second they lose on a flea flicker by the goddam Patriots. Fuck Boston too. Spain and Boston can go get bent.

Here are our unintentional villains of the week, with their villainous mustaches:



This may be a running theme, so feel free to submit your weekly picks for 'Villain of the Week'.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Senators and Judges? Top Notch.

An excerpt from today's 'grilling' of potential Justice Sotomayor...



Glad we've got this brain trust locked up.

Bush: 1, Obama: 0

The matchup of the Presidential first pitches goes to W.



Now, Obama's throw last night wasn't completely pathetic - but it definitely reeks of 'throwing like a girl'. No doubt he had a team of people doing their best to beef up his throw in the days leading up to the All Star Game. I know Obama is a basketball guy, and we've all seen the countless 'one-of-us' videos as he drained jump shots while hooping it up during his campaign. But what always baffles me is how a male in this country can be proficient in one sport, yet be mostly inept at other sports. True well rounded athletes can do it all.

I never played organized basketball, but I can still make a layup and drain the occasional 3 pointer. I didn't go to bowling camp, but I can regularly top 160+ on the hardwood (Obama famously bowled a 37 last year). Tennis, golf, skiing, wakeboarding, marathons - east coast mark is ready to roll.

But do you ever see some of these professional basketball players try and pick up a golf club? Baffling how they can be so terrible. How can you be a dominant athlete in one sport, and never learn to throw a spiral with a football? Or these guys that were a star wide receiver, but if you put a tennis racket in their hand they look like Special Olympic rejects. I do like guys like Tony Romo - an NFL starting QB, and also has a 2 handicap on the golf course.

Conclusion: If you're a 50 year old man and you throw like a girl, it's already too late.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Le Tour

About five years ago, I was having dinner with some people at a restaurant in Austin, Texas. It remember it being a fairly fancy place, dimly lit and quiet. About midway through the meal, I took a breather from my steak and took a look around the room. I had to do a double-take, but it turned out Lance Armstrong was sitting about 5 feet from me at the next table - and I hadn't even noticed. We happened to make eye contact for just a moment later in the evening, and I can still recall how steely and cutting his eyes were (no homo).

This encounter happened right about the time he was winning his 6th or 7th tour, and I was fairly star struck - and have followed his career closely ever since.

Fast forward to 2009, and Lance is back on the bike - taking a run at another Tour de France; following a 4 year retirement from cycling. A week into the tour, the 37 year old Texan is in third place - 8 seconds out of the lead, and a serious threat to win another Tour. Not many gave Lance much of a chance to truly be in the mix, but he's showing everyone that he's not just along for the ride.

The 'Versus' channel has live coverage of every stage each morning, starting around 7:30am EST, with replays throughout the day. It's especially nice that the coverage is in HD this year - with some great sweeping helicopter shots of the French and Spanish countryside. I'd encourage you all to take a break from those replays of Law and Order, and find Versus on your dial sometime in the next 2 weeks.

I'll say this for the Tour; it's definitely inspired me to get out on my bike more - I think I've logged about 30 miles this week. In true rube-like fashion - I'm also one of those people sporting a yellow Livestrong bracelet for the next month.

Here's a montage of some of Lance's greatest hits:



Saturday, July 4, 2009

You Stay Classy, America

Today the USA celebrates 233 years of being awesome. American tennis player Andy Roddick got the weekend off to a fine start by stomping Brit Andy Murray in the Semifinals of Wimbledon, shaming Murray in front of his fellow countrymen on his home turf (literally). Then, on the 4th of July, two American Women (Serena vs. Venus) will have their way on the Wimbledon center court - playing for the women's championship. USA! USA!

No word yet if the Brits will be having lemon or milk in their tea (by the way, tea is so damn gay). There is simply no way for a male to drink tea and look manly. But I digress.

Aside from watching Tennis - the rest of the Republic will spend the weekend having a burger, brat, and a steak. We usually wouldn't have all three - but...we'll need our strength if we're going to blow shit up later.

To get everyone in the spirit - we'll continue a July 4th tradition here at east coast mark, and send you off with a photo blog of Awesomeness in America:
















No political bashing today - but do take a few minutes this 4th of July to reflect on the great men and great ideas that have made the USA the greatest nation to ever grace the Earth. Take some time to think about if you'd like to have another great 233 years - or if you're ready to follow Obama on the riskiest left turn we've ever seen.

Finally, for you true patriots out there - I highly recommend picking up the book Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin. It's been on the best seller list for months, and is a must-read if you'd like a concise and clear viewpoint on the issues facing America today. Also, comes in handy if you'd like to regularly trounce liberals in impromptu debates at cocktail parties.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009